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Messages - staehpj1

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Gear Talk / Re: solo bike security
« on: April 04, 2014, 04:28:33 pm »
The risks are pretty low in rural small town America and that is where you will spend the large majority of the time on a coast to coast tour.  Just use good judgement, carry and use a light cable lock where you feel you need to.  In the few bigger towns, especially bike friendly ones don't leave the bike out of sight.  The highest risks are probably when you leave your bike outside of stores or restaurants in bigger towns.  If the vibe is especially bad somewhere, take the bike inside.

The majority of the time I don't bother to lock, but in places where the risk seems high I don't let my bike out of my sight.

Routes / Re: Looking for week-long spring route in Eastern US
« on: April 01, 2014, 07:12:16 am »
I think you should look at the ACA's Tidewater Potomac route. It meets a lot of your criteria. It is less than 400 miles long, there isn't demanding terrain so your friend shouldn't be stressed since she lacks experience, traveling to DC should be not too difficult, DC has great museums to see if you haven't been before. May is a very good season to tour in this area.

That route depends on water based transportation that doesn't run all year, so check that it is running before you pick a date.

Gear Talk / Re: Disc Trucker + Schwalbe Marathon Deluxe.. rim?
« on: April 01, 2014, 07:10:23 am »
Gotcha. I don't know why, but I tend to do things like this, over planning/thinking things  ???

I suppose I'll stay with the stock tires for now, however, I will be upgrading the saddle to a Brookes Flyer saddle  ;D

Wearing out the original tires is a good idea.

BTW, I would consider using the stock saddle for at least several hundred miles before "upgrading" it.  You may find that after your body breaks in to it that you actually like it.  It may not be the case for you, but for me the Flyer would be a downgrade.  I consider the stock saddles that came on all of my bikes to be more comfortable than any of the Brooks models.  Out of dozens of saddles I have used over the years a Brooks B-17 was my absolute least favorite.  Add the weight of the springs of the flyer and I'd like it even less.

Note I am not saying that the Brooks models don't work well for some folks, merely that it isn't a slam dunk for everyone.

Routes / Re: Wind Direction Going Cross-Country
« on: March 31, 2014, 09:47:37 am »
Just me, but here are my thoughts on that.  Note that I have done both the TA and the ST (as well as some other long tours) so I have some experience with them.  It still is just my opinion though.

I'm thinking about doing the southern tier cross country route this summer.
Consider how hot that will be.  I did the ST in February-March time frame and you couldn't pay me to do it in the Summer.  Personally I found the ST to have mostly underwhelming scenery and the only real pluses for that route are that it is flatter, shorter, and can be done in the winter.

I'd do the TA again or maybe the NT if I was going in the Summer.  The TA was hot enough!  In Summer the ST would not be on my list to even consider.

I heard that the wind generally goes from West to East but a friend who went cross country (Trans Am) said she experienced headwind the entire time while going West to East.

I want to start out in the East and go West from there.

I wouldn't make wind direction be a deciding factor.  On the TA, I'd start in the East and head west if starting early in the season and start in the west if starting later.  That way you avoid heat and humidity in the east and cold and snowed in passes in the west.  The ST I wouldn't do at all anytime other than the cool months of the year.

The TA is likely to have headwinds for west bounders in the summer due to winds out of the south east, since it crosses the plains in a NE/SE direction.

Here is a july wind map that may help:

Gear Talk / Re: Handlebar bag alternative
« on: March 30, 2014, 03:26:06 pm »
On most of the TA the turns are pretty infrequent.  One of the gals I rode with on the TA could just look at the map in the morning and remember all of the turns.  I definitely could not do that.  I have toured with the map in a jersey pocket and it wasn't that bad.  Still I do prefer to have it out and in sight.

General Discussion / Re: First Bike Tour
« on: March 30, 2014, 07:20:07 am »
A good quality bike in well maintained condition should not require a lot of maintenance even over a 4000 mile tour.  Chain lubing and tire pressure should be the only routine items with wearing out or damaging a tire as a possibility.

Generally true and I agree in principle.  That said, depending on the load, route, and other factors the chain and brake pads may not make the duration of a coast to coast type of trip.  For me chains have always lasted the duration and a lot more, but I have worn out tires and brake pads in a single long tour.

Bike repair and maintenance is pretty easy, but for someone who always has a bike shop do their maintenance there is no reason they can' t continue that practice on tour.  Worst case they might need to hitch a ride.  It the US that is pretty easy.  I have done it and others I was with have as well and it was never a problem to get a ride to a town with a bike shop.  No one I am aware of ever waited more than 20 minutes for a ride that was even true in the desert where the cars were very infrequent.  In that case most of the cars will stop for a loaded bicycle that is obviously broken down.

Routes / Re: Western Express vs. Trans-Am time and suggestions
« on: March 30, 2014, 02:11:00 am »
I am also extremely interested in your tips on free camping.  Do you typically ask people to camp on their land?

I most often camp in places where I wouldn't know who to ask.  In the middle of the country, picnic pavilions are usually fair game.  I might ask the clerk at the general store if they think I'd be run off.  Roadside picnic areas are often OK.  It gets sketchier nearer either coast.  When I do ask I typically just ask around casually.  That is usually cashiers, waitstaff, and what not.  I might say "is there anywhere nearby that I can pitch a tent for the night and not be run off?"  Mentioning you are on a coast to coast tour helps.  If you ever stay in motels mentioning that and asking will usually get you a discount.  If I need to look harder, and this is pretty infrequent, I might ask the local police, the local librarian, or at a local church.  Using those approaches plus once in a while camping out of sight and out of mind (Not typically necessary on the TA), I have never been run off or otherwise hassled.

On the AC Trans America Route you can get by with only staying in the places that they list if you want to.  They list contact info for the ones where you need to check in.  Using the AC maps to find places to stay was easy and after a while you get a feel for it from the experience and get to be good at finding places on your own.

Gear Talk / Re: Handlebar bag alternative
« on: March 29, 2014, 11:56:06 am »
Doesn't something like the attached look cleaner?  I presume one could still reach down to get stuff easily enough.
Actually that looks butt ugly to me.  I am not that concerned with how things look though.  Function should come first IMO.

Gear Talk / Re: Handlebar bag alternative
« on: March 29, 2014, 09:38:45 am »
Lots of options are available.  One is to mount a handlebar bag down lower on a rack platform, if that would look better to you.  Then there are lots of little bags that mount on the top tube or stem.  Jersey pockets are a fine alternative for snacks and such.  I have used a little waist pack before and that worked fine too.

Most advise against them bit a little 18 liter lightweight backpack is a handy way to carry stuff that you want to take with you at all times.  I used one for extra food and water on a long dry stretch and liked it enough that I started using it on a regular basis.  I try to limit it to just 2-3 pounds and 4 at most only is special situations.

General Discussion / Re: Weight training and cycling
« on: March 29, 2014, 06:54:35 am »
Easy cycling on flatter roads might actually speed your recovery after your leg days at the gym.

Routes / Re: Western Express vs. Trans-Am time and suggestions
« on: March 29, 2014, 04:22:11 am »
I found stealth camping unnecessary on the Trans America and managed to camp for free in plain sight more often than I paid.  You can probably average $5 per night or less with a little effort.  It is harder near the coasts, but across the middle of the country it is very easy to camp for free.

The best advice I have is to pick your gear first.  Go as light as you can.  Then once the gear is chosen decide which bags you need to carry it.   Then pick what bike and racks are need to accommodate that. To me less and lighter gear is a big plus.  For people who aren't into going super light I'd say that if your panniers wind up being much over 30 pounds (without any food or water), you should look long and hard at your packing list.  It is possible to get down to a much lower base weight than that if you are a minimalist and pack carefully, but that isn't for everyone.

I didn't find a filter very useful on the TA (mailed it home).  In places with less restock capabilities and plenty of cold mountain streams a filter is nice, but the TA wasn't like that.   I took one and was glad I did in the Sierras, on a dirt road tour in Colorado, and will take one on my MTB tour in Idaho.  On the TA and on the ST I would leave it home.  My assumption is the the WE is dry enough that there aren't streams to filter from, but I have not ridden it.

I found plenty of places to charge the phone without adding a dynohub.  Just leave the phone turned off when not using it and battery life gets to be pretty easy to deal with.

A relatively unladen bike is a huge plus IMO.

Routes / Re: Southern Tier starting in April
« on: March 28, 2014, 05:38:51 am »
Thank you very much for your responses! I also read some stuff in the past time about the route and feel way less insecure about it now. I'm still thinking about the best way from LA to the Southern Tier Route. I think of two options: leaving LA to the South/East and meet the Route in Brawley or going South to Start the Route in San Diego. What do you think?
If it was me, unless I wanted to ride that section of the coast, I'd probably just hop on a train or bus and start in San Diego.

Routes / Re: East Coast to West Coast Trip
« on: March 27, 2014, 12:56:14 pm »
I found an app that seems to do what I am looking for.  MapMyRide GPS Cycling Riding.
Mapmyride is great for short trips, for a coast to coast ride I strongly recommend that you buy the Adventure Cycling maps for a suitable route (TA to WE maybe?).  The extra info on the maps will likely save you way more than the cost of the maps.  All of the services you need are listed on the maps as well as a lot of free places to stay.  Here is a link to the relevant AC routes mapped out on mapmyride:
I'd still recommend buying and using the actual AC maps though since there is a ton of useful info on them..

Not sure how long your route will be, but 30 days is pretty ambitious.  It is unlikely that your route won't be well over 3000 miles.  The route above is over 3400 miles.   That would mean 115 miles per day average.  Not many people average much over 80 miles per day especially when you figure that some rest days or at least short mile days are typical.  60 miles per day is pretty typical.  The folks I met on the trans america who were planning to average 100 mile days wound up averaging more like 80.

30 days is possible but it would require riding long hard days everyday and would not allow much "smelling the roses".  I recommend planning a pace where you can take easy days here and there and taking more time off the bike to see the sights.  I have gone coast to coast averaging 60 mile days on the TA and another time averaging 80 miles on the flatter ST.  The 80 mile days trip was fun but a real grind, I don't think I'd want to average longer days than that.  It required quite a few days that were over 100 miles sometimes back to back.

Bottom line, 115 mile days is possible but will be pretty strenuous, not allow much time off of the bike, not allow many (any?) rest days or short mileage days.

Routes / Re: Starting Trans America West to East in July ... ?
« on: March 26, 2014, 11:56:12 am »
That time and direction of travel should be fine, maybe almost optimum.  You will have some hot weather, but that is hard to avoid.  Have a great trip.

General Discussion / Re: 2 General Questions
« on: March 25, 2014, 01:14:51 am »
Mostly I don't pick stopping points ahead of time at all unless there is some specific reason to do so.  So I usually decide when I get there, but having an idea what options you have a few days out is a good idea.  That way you can avoid stopping at a point that severely limits your choices for the next day.  There are places where you want to stop at a specific spot because of a long stretch without services.  Another consideration might be major climbs that you might want to get done in the cool of the morning or maybe split between two days.

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